Interview with Seeed Studio on postal delays

in interviews, News by Ian | 11 comments

Airmail packages from Seeed Studio have been extremely slow lately. We’re currently waiting on circuit boards and other goodies to arrive from Seeed Studio. Our order left Seeed promptly, but delivery is taking weeks. Lots of other people have experienced long shipping times too. We sent Seeed a list of questions to get a handle on the situation. The bottom line: Seeed expects delivery times to return to normal starting now.

Dangerous Prototypes: When we started ordering from Seeed, airmail shipped on Monday arrived in the US and EU on Thursday or Friday. Now it takes about 4 to 6 weeks. Did you notice a similar increase in time to all destinations?

Seeed: We had problems throughout last month, Christmas rush hour, vacation, bad weather… Some parcels are having ridiculous long shipping time. Thanks for sending us these questions, we sincerely appreciate the chance to explain. Good news is the shipping time is getting back to normal now.

DP: Is this a seasonal delay? If so, when might we expect faster delivery again?

Seeed: It’s not normal, the major reason for delaying is Hong Kong post faced an extreme overloading for holiday posts. All parcels have to queue to get processed, sorted, and finally board for destination. For about one week, all posts except USA and EU are even suspended just to save the majority delaying. Ebay sent several notices to its China sellers for this issue and suggested solutions, many of them just closed up to avoid reputation damage. We tried to contact our logistic company for this issue, but in vain. Additionally, vacations and bad weather in destination country aggravates the delay.

Interview continues below.

DP: Lots of people notice an additional delay of up to 2 weeks from the time a package is marked shipped to the time it can be tracked. Can you reduce the delay between leaving Shenzhen and arriving in Hong Kong? Can you tell us little about this?

Seeed: We are also upgrading our order handling procedures to reduce process time (from order “shipped” status change to track number traceable). You may also notice the difference in shipping labels shortly.

DP: Are there shipping options besides Hong Kong Post and DHL? Are you considering any?

Seeed: Since Hong Kong post service focus more on cost saving, please choose DHL or suggest other courier if you need timely shipment. We are so sorry for keep you waiting!

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Comments

  1. David says:

    Why do they have to ship from Shenzhen to Hong Kong in the first place? I would really like to hear what they have to say about that.

    I live in Jakarta and have found the postal service out of Hong Kong to be spotty with sporadic long delays. That’s nothing however compared with the service provided by the Post Indonesia! I won’t even go into what that is like.

    This is what happens when you let the government provide a basic service (such as standard post) as a subsidized monopoly. What is wrong with the people in the US? They’re actually trying to put their health care system under Government control! Tsk tsk, some people never learn. Private clinics in Asia are filled with people from the EU, UK, and Canada who are denied health care in their own countries due to rationing in their now socialist health care monopolies. Even if they are allowed to undergo a procedure or treatment, they’re put on long waiting lists. I see this almost every time I visit the doctor here. And yes, I have to use private clinics as the government run health care system is in shambles. Thank goodness that haven’t outlawed that option – yet.

    Sorry for the rant…

  2. pppd says:

    I don’t think there’s anything Seed Studio can do about it. I have ordered a few things from different suppliers in HK and China and it took about 6 weeks to arrive. It’s just the holiday season that causes the enourmous delays. Which is a bit funny as they do not celebrate Christmas or New Years Eve during this time:)

  3. ericwertz says:

    I think that if you ask most people in mainland China about why they prefer to use HKPost, it’s because their own government/national carrier, EMS, is even considerably more “challenged”. It’s only been the last 5-10 years that anything in the region’s *not* gone through HongKong, people *or* packages. HK is still a *major* transit/trade hub.

    I’ve had some things come from EMS to USPS and it’s been “ok”. But I also had a “5-7 business day guaranteed delivery” package take over one month to get to me. One whole month without a tracking entry in the system after the first hop — no sign that it ever left China, entered the US or even passed through customs until it arrived at the post office seven blocks away — all checkpoints which were standard for the other 5-6 tracked packages I’ve received through either HKPost or EMS.

    Both the seller and I thought that the package was lost/stolen and the seller replaced it (not shipping it via EMS) at his expense. Of course as soon as he shipped the replacement from China, the first attempt appeared entirely unannounced.

    Which reminds me, anyone on the West Coast want a great deal on new, in-sealed-box Rigol DS1052E…?

    @pppd — I’d agree that there’s probably not much they can do about it, unless either Seeed or the courier is bunching-stuff up for too long before running it down to Hong Kong. Although one would think that it wasn’t Seeed.

    I love keeping shipping costs to a minimum, but even I would often kick-in a few dollars to get somethings in 2.5 weeks vs. 5+. In fact that’s what I thought I was doing by choosing the non-free shipping upgrade, but apparently not.

    Thanks for passing this all on, Ian.

  4. drewmerc says:

    well to be honest i have not seen the problem
    i ordered my buspirate on the 3rd of december (i already knew this was a stupid time to order being christmas and all)
    shipped out on 15th
    received on the 29th
    china to uk in december not bad in my eyes

  5. ericwertz says:

    Drew’s point is a great one. Once again, it’s all about (managing) expectations. In this instance, a number of people are bummed-out because either 1) they’ve had previous orders arrive much faster (say 10-14 days), or 2) shipments take longer than what’s stated on the website (15-25 days+customs+holidaySpecialEffects+weather).

    I think it’s mostly #1. Even 5-6 weeks is not wildly unreasonable in the advertised worst case (25+weather+Christmas+customs).

    It’s sad that there are basically only two classes of shipping choices: 2.5-5weeks@$3 and 5days@$33, but that seems to be the way it is for long-distance small-parcel shipping in much of the industrialized world.

    Thanks for the reset, Drew.

  6. pppd says:

    I agree with you Drew, it’s all about previous experience. My parcels/letters from HK/China/Taiwan usually were delivered within 10 days, 14 weeks.

    But I still can’t complain that an international parcel/letter needs 6 weeks to travel a few thousand kilometres while sometimes it takes more than a week for a domestic letter to be delivered between two biggest cities in my country.

    We just need to deal with the fact that if we want something cheap we will need to wait.

  7. IPenguin says:

    I placed 3 orders with Seeed Studio between October 1 and November 26, 2009 (including BP v3 [Preorder 2], Christmas Tree Ornament, #twatch and nanoDSO). All orders were put on backorder because of my order to ship all orders in one shippment. The Christmas Tree Ornament was scheduled to ship around December 18 (“This item is currently being manufactured and should ship around December 18.”).

    Seeed Studio shipped everything on time – on December 18, 2009!

    I had hoped for the shipment to arrive before December 1, 2009 … to have some extra toys to play with during the hoilday season.

    The shippment arrived yesterday, January 14, 2010 in Germany.

    Nonetheless, I had a great holiday season spending most of the time with my family attending to other things we had always wanted to do but never found the time.

    Seeed Studio did a great job … again. They fullfilled their commitment down to every single point in their control! Thank you!

    If I’d need any of their items for a time critical project, I’d select the DHL shipping option and pay the extra $$$! FedEX, UPS and DHL starting at US$ 25 to Europe (from the US and China) seem to be the standard option most vendors off only.

    The free/registered mail shipping option is good if you want to save $$$, have time and can be patient. :)

    Waiting does not kill the fun factor for me – quite the opposite, it makes me more excited … raises the expectations and finally when the shippment arrives in good condition I am very happy!

    Blame the delays on the season or on HKPost but don’t blame Seeed Studio – they announced the delays to be expected with HKPost on their web site/blog the same day HKPost released details about the season delays to be expected –>

    http://www.hongkongpost.com/eng/publications/news/2009/20091109a/index.htm

  8. IPenguin says:

    Sorry for the typo regarding the delivery date I had hoped for – it must read:

    “I had hoped for the shipment to arrive before December 31, 2009″

  9. ds1052e says:

    I don’t think there’s anything Seed Studio can do about it. I have ordered a few things from different suppliers in HK and China and it took about 6 weeks to arrive. It’s just the holiday season that causes the enourmous delays. Which is a bit funny as they do not celebrate Christmas or New Years Eve during this time:)

  10. degen radio says:

    Drew’s point is a great one. Once again, it’s all about (managing) expectations. In this instance, a number of people are bummed-out because either 1) they’ve had previous orders arrive much faster (say 10-14 days), or 2) shipments take longer than what’s stated on the website (15-25 days+customs+holidaySpecialEffects+weather).

    I think it’s mostly #1. Even 5-6 weeks is not wildly unreasonable in the advertised worst case (25+weather+Christmas+customs).

    It’s sad that there are basically only two classes of shipping choices: 2.5-5weeks@$3 and 5days@$33, but that seems to be the way it is for long-distance small-parcel shipping in much of the industrialized world.

    Thanks for the reset, Drew.

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